Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Carcinogenic FEMA trailers and presidential politics

So it turns out that those trailers that were supposed to have been supplied to homeless victims of Hurricane Katrina--the ones that were long delayed, and came in inadequate numbers to begin with--were built with materials containing high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde.

Thad Godish, a formaldehyde expert with Ball State University who has acted as an independent expert in evaluating the FEMA trailers, said the formaldehyde levels were very high _ some reaching more than 1 part per million _ in some trailers previously tested by federal regulators.

At such high levels, he said people, especially children younger than 6, are likely to be affected. "You're simply sick all the time," Godish said. "It's basically upper respiratory, nose, throat irritation, headaches, fatigue."

Just add that to the list of the ways the Gulf Coast has been screwed by this administration.

By the way, I've said it before and I'll say it again: those who think that this country--after it turned a completely blind eye to the wholesale, LITERAL destruction of a predominantly black region--is ready to elect a black man to the presidency are kidding themselves. Think about it: after the hurricane, not only was the Gulf Coast never rebuilt, but for the most part the story of the ongoing devastation has disappeared from public view, except for the occasional shameful revelation like the one about the FEMA trailers. The story has evaporated from the news because for the most part, people don't care.

And I believe that what's true for Barack Obama is equally true for Hillary, although for slightly different reasons. If one of them is the Democratic nominee, we are going to lose, and lose big.

We are simply not there yet. Racism and sexism are so deeply engrained into our culture, I personally doubt whether we'll ever be in a place where a minority or a woman could win the presidency. It pains me to admit that this is how it is. With so much at stake, is this the time to risk it?


hausfrau said...

I just don't know. I really don't. I think we could pull it off with either of them. I don't disagree that great swaths of the country wouldn't vote for a black man or Hillary Clinton, but I also think that their candidacies would inspire to action some typical Democratic constituencies that otherwise don't get out to vote. Hillary, for example, is doing huge outreach and registration drive among unmarried women, who trend hugely for Democrats but vote in abysmal numbers. I also tend to think that so few of the voters who would hold Obama's race against him would vote for any Dem in the first place.

But you're right; we're so not in a place where I'm comfortable in these beliefs. Thank God for the abysmal Republican field and the miserable legacy of the current administration.

Fraulein said...

That's true -- voter turnout is going to be key in 2008, for sure. I think as always the question is whether the Democrats can come up with a concise, consistent, accurate and damning message and repeat it often enough to motivate people to get out there and vote.

I really hope that people surprise me, but Katrina really worries me. I will never forget watching that unfold on TV and thinking, well, NOW Bush is going to be impeached!! And then nothing happened. That in many ways was more depressing for me than the war, because it was our own country, and still people didn't seem to care!